The project aims to defend women’s rights in the face of rising conservatism and exclusion.


Women’s rights are violated to some extent all over West Africa. Violence against women is widespread; the figures are alarming, yet the topic is taboo in both private and public spheres. Women are under-represented in all decision-making fora. Fewer than 10% of members of parliament are women in Niger, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire (Senegal is the exception) – though all four countries have ratified the principal international and regional conventions on women’s rights.


Despite the rise in violations of women’s rights, media do not cover them adequately. The space devoted to women is on average less than 15% of the editorial space in newspapers, and media reproduce the stereotypes that obstruct gender equality.


Civil society organisations committed to defending women’s rights work to raise awareness, but their activities are very little reported in the media. The CSOs do not sufficiently exploit the considerable new opportunities offered by new and social media to advocate and mobilise for women’s rights.


To address these challenges, PIWA has established the project, Women: Occupy the Media! for four years, 2016-2020, in Senegal, Mali, Niger and Cote d’Ivoire. The project is financed by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs through its FLOW 2 programme (Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women).


  • Inclusion of marginalised women (young women, grass-roots organisations) in public fora
  • Strengthening the capacities of media and of organisations defending women’s rights, by means of workshops but particularly through on-going training activities such as mentoring and social media
  • Integration of gender into the policies and practices of media institutions
  • Critical and participative citizen scrutiny of the media, by media themselves and also by civil society (Observatories)
  • Establishment of a framework for coordination and dialogue between civil society (media and organisations defending women’s rights) and political decision-makers
  • Interaction and dialogue between civil society and opinion leaders, particularly religious leaders